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Wednesday, April 11 • 3:30pm - 3:45pm
PROCESSES IN AGRICULTURAL LANDSCAPES: Classifying Historic Land-use Changes and Effects on Playa Wetland Inundation on the Southern High Plains Using Remote Sensing Techniques

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AUTHORS: Scott M. Starr*, Nancy E. McIntyre – Texas Tech University

ABSTRACT: Over time humans have changed the landscape to suit their needs. In the Southern High Plains of North America, the main land-cover types are agricultural and native and replanted grassland. Scattered throughout this landscape are thousands of playa wetlands that are the primary source of aboveground freshwater. As runoff-fed wetlands, playas are susceptible to changes in the surrounding landscape, which can affect a playa’s ability to hold water (inundation). We used remotely sensed imagery and data from the USDA Census of Agriculture to assess land-use changes and playa inundation in 7874 playa basins in a ~34,000 km2 area of Texas during six years that contained higher than average precipitation for the region (1986, 1987, 1996, 1997, 2007, 2008). Land use during the late growing season (48-day window from late August through early October) was assessed for five categories (agriculture, rangeland/grassland, barren, developed, water) within 100 m of each playa as well as across the focal landscape. Changes across the landscape were observed over the surveyed time period. Significant differences among land uses were found between and within years around dry and wet playas. There were more dry playas classified as crop, rangeland/grassland, and barren during all years except 1986, when more wet playas were classified in these land-use categories. Over the 23-year period, a decrease in the number of wet playas was observed, with a loss of 45.5% of functioning playas (max: 59.8% (1986); min 14.3% (2008)). Mean patch size and overall area of rangeland/grassland increased over time, possibly due in part to conservation efforts in the area; other land-use types consequently decreased, but agriculture remained a dominant land-use type throughout. Finally, there was a switch to center-pivot irrigation and an overall increase in irrigated crop acreage. Because playas are crucial habitats, these changes have likely affected regional biodiversity.

Wednesday April 11, 2018 3:30pm - 3:45pm CDT
Adams Room

Attendees (5)